LaÏla Diallo by Ravi Deepres Capital Nights

Playhouse Theatre
Thursday 30th October 2008

Reviewed by Alfonso Barata

Capital Nights is a new contemporary dance festival that showcases companies from previous European capitals of culture; it is presented and organised by MDI (Merseyside Dance Initiative).

During four days, Liverpool becomes the European capital of dance, showcasing companies from cities such as Dublin, Amsterdam, Genova and Liverpool. There are also seminars and talks.

For dance lovers, this is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the best of European contemporary dance.

Thursday’s night comprised of a triple bill including companies hailing from Amsterdam, Dublin and a Bristol-based solo performer.

The event started with a 16 minute piece by Québec dancer LaÏla Diallo (above), The Wayside; this is a solo performance that explores the subject of departure, the piece fails to engage and inspire; without any other visual aid and with background music used sparingly, Diallo becomes the centre of a piece that for all its shortness becomes too long. Rather than using this as a chance to display an accomplished technique and passion, by insisting in sticking to a more abstract and poetic angle, the piece falls flat.

Next it’s the Dublin trio from the Rex Levitates Dance Company who presented the piece Shared Material on Dying.

I must confess that both the name of the company and the title of this performance spring to mind one word: pretentiousness.

But of course, for the sake of writing an objective review, I leave my preconceptions behind and try to concentrate on what happens on stage, which is not much really.

Three women, dressed identically, dancing in complete silence, with very slow movements first that then gradually gather momentum.

By mirroring their movements, the three dancers become one. Whilst two of the dancers remain in the shadow, it is the one in the middle who gets the full attention and who seemingly leads the way.

By depraving the piece of any background music, we feel compelled to completely focus our attention on the dancers, who do their best to fill the void by producing what it is at times a fine performance.

The evening finished with a more ambitious piece presented by the Dutch company Anouk van Dijk dc.

Created originally for the Russian company Provincial Dances Theatre, Am I Out?, this is a very dynamic piece that explores Russian society in the times following the fall of the Soviet Union.

Music and performers blend perfectly here; four characters, two male and two female, present us a highly physical performance, that sees dancers producing original and finely delivered movements.

Visually interesting and engaging, Am I Out? is no exempt of sense of humour that gives the piece an extra interest.
This last company really showed a quality that is not far from what you would expect from a festival presenting the finest contemporary dance across the continent.

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